Football HuddleIf you sensed a theme this month you are correct. The word is ENCOURAGEMENT. It is a word that we no longer hear that often.

I’ve had the privilege of working with several different professional teams in the capacity of a chaplain or keynote speaker. One of my favorite football stories I like to tell underscores the importance of encouragement.

Motivation often occurs out of the huddle of encouragement. In football, there was probably no greater leader and encourager than the Hall of Famer quarterback – Bart Starr. When Bart was in his prime there was none better. He utilized his mind and voice to prompt and inspire his team.

While football was a very important part of Bart’s life, his family was his central focus. It is interesting to note that many successful football players usually have a loving and supportive family that encourages and inspires them during the tough times.

During the season Bart would try to stay updated with the kid’s activities by weekly reviewing their homework and tests. If the homework paper was particularly good he would tape a dime to the work and write a note “I Love You and I’m Proud of You!”

In 1965 Bart had a bad game against the St. Louis Cardinals. There was a national television audience and most of America’s football fans were watching this critical game. The Green Bay Quarterback fumbled a few times and in the last minutes threw an interception that cost his team the victory. That night the team flew back to Green Bay. Late in the evening, Bart got home only to find a note placed on the refrigerator door. It read, “Dad, I saw your game today. I want you to know I love you and I’m still proud of you.” signed Bart Jr. A dime was taped to the paper.

The words of encouragement from his young son had their impact on Bart, his family, and the Green Bay Packers. Bart realized the importance timely, comforting remarks could have on a person’s perspective. Unfortunately, as Bart Jr. matured he allowed peer pressure to change his positive outlook on life. He did not stay with the encouraging concepts his dad taught.

Articulating a positive and encouraging attitude can motivate people in a special way. Our tongues are but a little muscle, but have enormous power for both good and evil. In the Book of Proverbs, we find many references dealing with the positive use of our tongue, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

WEBSTER says this about encouragement: “To inspire with courage, hope of resolution, to help or foster.” Encouraging others is counter to what our society is projecting. Critics and scoffers are abundant. When we aren’t at the top of our game or our business there are many who will doubt and become critical or even cynical. It is good to remember that Jesus came to encourage – “The Lord came to lift up (encourage) the downtrodden.” Luke 4:16-18

Personal Application:

I don’t know about you but I need to do a much better job with my thoughts and words. James, the half-brother of Jesus reminds us:

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. James 3:5-10

Wow! That’s enough for me to work on this week.

Jim Grassi, D. Min.